Since 2012, conservative talk-radio hosts and lawmakers in Colorado have wrapped their loving arms around a baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple.
A federal appeals court, as well as a string of Colorado courts, have found Masterpiece Cakeshop’s action in violation of Colorado’s public accommodations law, which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear the Masterpiece case, and the baker’s Colorado lawyer, Nicole Martin, said on KNUS 710-AM Monday that she “did a little jig” when she heard the news.
Asked by host Dan Caplis how the baker, Jack Phillips, reacted, Martin said, “He was very happy and I think humbled, and he always had faith in God’s plan. And that showed. But, yes, it is a profound moment for him, as you could imagine.”
“I think we have an excellent shot at winning,” said Martin on the radio. “I do. Even with Kennedy, we feel that we will be vindicated. And, you know, at the end of the day, it is compelling that Jack will finally have his day in court. When you start in an administrative body, especially when you’re dealing with complex issues of First Amendment jurisprudence and Free Exercise jurisprudence, and you’re starting in a local Colorado administrative court, it is very hard to feel like you ever had your real day in court. It is very hard to feel that you ever had actual due process. So, this is an important vindication, that the Colorado Supreme Court, I think, passed up a great opportunity. This is an important vindication that these issues need to be decided by judges that have the wisdom, experience, and expertise to decide these types of cases.”
In a news release Monday, a coalition of progressive groups, called Freedom for All Americans, spoke out against the Masterpiece baker’s discriminatory actions.
“As people of faith from many traditions, we are grounded in a common teaching, love your neighbor as you love yourself,” said Amanda Henderson, Executive Director, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. “In our communities and in our country, all people should have the right to be treated equally under the law, and served in any establishment no matter who they are, what they believe, or who they love.”
Laura “Pinky” Reinsch, Political Director at One Colorado, added: “All hardworking people, including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer, should be treated fairly and equally under the law. When they walk into a business that’s open to the public, they should be treated like anyone else and not be discriminated against. Let’s be clear, the Masterpiece Cakeshop case is about a business turning customers away simply because they were gay, which violates longstanding Colorado law.”
In Colorado, in the wake of the Masterpiece controversy, GOP lawmakers tried repeatedly to pass legislation allowing discrimination against gays and others.
For example, in 2015, State Senators Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) and Tim Neville (R-Littleton) were among the sponsors of failed legislation that would have allowed student clubs to violate campus anti-discrimination policies and still receive university benefits (funds, facilities, etc.).
In response to repeated legal setbacks in Colorado, one local talk-radio host ordered a cake from a bakery with the Bible verse, “Homosexuality Is a Detestable Sin” written on it. When the baker refused, the radio host filed a complaint that was later dismissed on grounds that the verse was hate speech.
The case against Masterpiece baker was originally filed on behalf of the gay couple by the ACLU of Colorado.
Staunch conservative John Suthers, Colorado’s Attorney General when the case was filed in 2012, agreed that the bakery broke Colorado’s law.
The outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court’s review of the Masterpiece case could have an impact on similar cases nationally, such as that of a photographer in New Mexico who was found to be in violation of civil rights law when she refused service for a gay couple’s wedding. The Supreme Court refused to hear this case is 2014.
“[The baker] believes very strongly that he was created for a time such as this,” said Martin on air, adding that David Cortman from Alliance for Defending Freedom and other nationally known lawyers will argue the case. “[Phillips] was chosen for a time such as this, I have no doubt in my mind about that. You will never meet anyone more faithful – a more humble servant. Never! He is amazing.”
Tim Gaudette, Colorado Outreach Manager, Small Business Majority, said via a news release: “Americans overwhelmingly oppose policies that allow businesses to cite their religious beliefs as an excuse for discriminating against LGBTQ persons, including 65 percent of Colorado small business owners, according to a Small Business Majority scientific opinion poll.”